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« Experience of the dimension of consecration »

13/07/2013: Bolivia - Photo gallery

Time flies by. End of the third stage of II Formation Itinerary in Preparation for Final Profession  in Cochabamba, Bolivia. These are the last weeks. The young Brothers have deepened their reflection on consecration through workshops, days of mission of solidarity, and other steps of the spiritual exercices of Saint Ignatius, and with an evaluation of their progress.

At the beginning of the third stage, the Brothers had the opportunity to share a week (1- 5 May) with the Superior General, Br Emili Turú, who conducted the workshop : « New face of the Marist Brother ». He based his reflection on his circular : « He gave us the name of  Mary ». With the help of the icons, Br Emili aided the young Brothers to study the themes : interiority (Annunciation), belonging (Pentecost) and integration (Visitation). Speaking of the Marial face of the Church, he recalled the basic mission of the Institute : « From the beginning, we have not been called to education, but to renew the Church from within, with strong communities capable of being the leaven in the dough ». Apart from working on the proposed topic, Br Emili responded to the Brothers’ questions about the Institute and completed his presentation by encouraging them on their Marist journey and inviting them to take more risks, be courageous, renew the Institute and consecrated life by being witnesses of the new image of the young Brother today.

The following week (6 - 9 May), it was the turn of the General Councillors Josep María Soteras and Eugène Kabanguka. Following on Br Emili, they animated the workshop : « The religious life of the Brothers ». Starting from a meditative reading of the passage of Jesus’ visit to  Bethany, the brothers were invited to pray their own « Bethanies ». By using the Lectio Divina method, all were able to update and pray their experience of consecration, their relationship with the lay Marists et their mission to the poor. The Councillors sought, using a participative methodology, to help the brothers reread their experience of consecrated life in the light of the calls of the XXI General Chapter. On the basis of these reflections, they emphasized that we need a new face for the brother in order to « help the dawn to be born », and to give a new thrust to Marist consecrated life. « It is this generation which can make the link with the elements of the present time, » affirmed Br Soteras. « We must do the work of an architect, like that of the ones who have renovated La Valla, in looking for the best of our origins and updating what is possible and necessary.

After this, we received a visit from Br Horacio Bustos, Provincial taking part in CIAP (8 -10 May). With him, the Brothers had a moment of evaluation of their journey and were able to share their experiences up to that time and make some suggestions for the time remaining. Br Horacio also expressed the joy he felt in being in this milieu with young men who wish to give their lives for the Kingdom, and he launched an appeal : « Profit from this time of living  certain experiences it is not always possible to live everyday. Be open to these experiences of interiority, in living in a different culture with people coming from different backgrounds. Live the internationality of the Institute, » he said. « We have much to learn from the Bolivian people ».

As well as reflecting on different aspects of consecration, the young Brothers had the opportunity to enter into contact with other situations in Bolivia during a  mission experience of ten days (12 -23 May). Sent to different milieux, they were in a position to come to know realities very different from those they were familiar with up to then, in becoming personally involved. More than work, the aim of this experience of mission was to make a connection between the reflection done up to then and the situation of the persons and communities where they were sent. Four milieux in all accepted the Brothers : an orphanage for children with special needs, in the charge of the Hospitaler Sisters in Puntiti; the boarding school of Comarapa, run by the Marist Brothers; the rural community and the social works, conducted by the Menesian Brothers, in the town of El Alto. Apart from being in contact with the different situations, they also came to know the cultural diversity of the Bolivian people. They were able to share with the religious and parish communities working in the different areas of mission : education, health care and social service… Moreover, they could see, experience and share in different styles of consecrated life and experience from close up the strength and commitment of consecrated life in Bolivia, close to the most poor and abandoned. « A unique experience which, as well as unsettling us, provoked reflection on our way of being Brother » stated Brother Wesley Adenilton, of the Province of Brasil Centre-Nord.

Between 27 May and 4 June, the Brotehrs took part in the second step of the spiritual exercices, in the Mother of God retreat house. They spent ten days of prayer, during which, inspired by the  person of Jesus and enlightened by the Ignatian method, they were able to review the way traversed, pray life and vocation, and advance in discernment in view of final profession. The retreat was the time and space propitious « to take the heart in one hands and renew the total gift of our consecration ».

At the end of the retreat, the Brothers did an evaluation of the three stages (May and June) and celebrated the feast of Saint Marcellin Champagnat, on 6 June, with the communities of the Novitiate and Ticti Norte, Brothers and young men in formation, who were in Cochabamba. Then, full of goodwill, all undertook the fourth stage of the journey entitled : « Charism and personal life project », up to the end of the programme on 29 June.

4th module (unification) : One path traversed and another to follow

Here we are at the end of our Itinerary of formation as Marist Brothers in temporary vows in Cochabamba. The aim of the fourth and last block has been to further the personal life project and harvest what each has sown during these four months.

We began with the workshop « Marist charism and Life project », directed by Br Patricio, of the Province of « Santa María de los Andes ». We drew on the sources of the Marist patrimony : our founder’s resolutions, some of his letters, direct testimonies about him, etc.

The week following the workshop was devoted to making a summary of the essential elements. Then we took a day of retreat to prepare a presentation of the important aspects to the other Brothers.

Our last community outing was to Tunari, the highest part of the cordillera which crosses Cochabamba. We went on pilgrimage to the Virgin of Urcupiña, in Quillacollo. It was an opportunity to thank our good Mother for all we have experienced and to offer her the way to be followed.

At the week-end, as usual, each Brother went to his place of apostolate (it was the last time…). Hearts filled with nostalgia and gratitude, we said goodbye to the people we had worked with, especially the children and young people. It was for us an opportunity to come to better know the reality of Bolivia.

At the end of the Mass in our  respective parishes, the priests had the kindness to farewell us with words of gratitude for our presence and collaboration, especially in the catechism groups.

Over thecourse of the last 10 days, we lived the last stage of the Exercices of Saint Ignatius. Days of silence and prayer during which we prepared for the continuation, the fifth week of the exercices, that is to say, the return to everyday life.

At the conclusion of this part, we had the benefit of the presence of the Provincials of the five Marist Provinces involved : « Rio Grande do Sul », « Brasil Centro Sul », « Brasil Centro Norte », « Norandina » and « América Central ».

From now on, each will return « home », to his place of mission, to put into practice everything we have learned during these months of formation. The moment has come to say « au revoir » and to give thanks for the company of all : Brothers who have followed the formation, parents and friends who have been present in our prayers and our hearts and who have « accompanied us » during these four months. Thanks to all for having been witnesses to the passage of God in our lives.

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